Dave & Dujanovic: Coping with the fear of returning to school

Sep 1, 2020, 5:36 PM
alpine school district orem northridge elementary...
FILE: Desks prepared for students to attend the first day of school at Northridge Elementary in Orem, part of the Alpine School District. Photo: Felicia Martinez, KSL TV

SALT LAKE CITY — Some students had trouble dealing with remote learning during lockdown, but others may be coping with a different concern: the fear of returning to school for the first time since spring as the global pandemic rages on. 

Bethanie Monsen-Ford, a nationally certified school psychologist working in the Davis School District,  joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss the mental health toll on students attending school in person after a hiatus.

The fear of returning to school

“Would it be common for a child to start acting out? Not really being themselves because of these changes [to school routines]?” Dave asked.

“Yes, for sure,” said Monsen-Ford. “The beginning of school year every year is a bit of a challenge for school psychologists, school counselors and social workers. It’s kind of our normal to go over some of those types of behaviors. This year that’s amplified to the nth degree. 

“Are they having any sleep in changes? That’s one of the biggest things to watch for in all ages of children,” she continued. “Whether that’s too much sleep, restless sleep or not being able to maintain sleep. You might also see some diet changes. Sometimes anxiety does looks different in younger children. It may sometimes look more like acting out, emotional outbursts, irritability. It could be more of that traditional withdrawal.”

Children might display anxious behavior such as asking repetitive questions and checking in more often about what’s happening, why is it happening, said Monsen-Ford.

The unknown of the virus

She added that those types of questions are challenging for adults right now because there is still so much unknown about the coronavirus pandemic.

“But it’s OK as an adult to say, ‘You know, I’m not quite sure about that, but this is what I do know and this is what I’m going to do to support you,'” said Monsen-Ford.

“As a parent, is there perhaps a delayed onset that we need to be looking for with fear and anxiety as the school year moves on?” Debbie asked.

“Really be mindful of those symptoms in your children all throughout the year,” said Monsen-Ford. “My biggest suggestion to every parent around the state is every district is different, but all districts are either going to have a school counselor, a school psychologist, which is my degree, or a social worker. All of us are here to support students and family whether it’s the beginning, middle or end of the year or any day in between. That’s our job.

“If you start to notice some of those things, please reach out,” she asked. “We need to be coming together because there’s so many areas of concern and need for students. So my biggest suggestion is reach out. Call your administrator, and say ‘I noticed this. Can we set up a meeting to chat with one of those professionals.’ We’re here to help you. Please do not be doing this on your own. This is a time when we really need to lean into each other.” 


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play

Today’s Top Stories


Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wants his old job back. ...
Mark Jones

Rocky Anderson announces bid to run for SLC mayor in 2023

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced Wednesday that he is seeking reelection to get his old job back.
1 day ago
Former Vice President Mike Pence is seen here with audience members after appearing at at CNN town ...
Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Pence says Trump was ‘wrong’ for dinner with Holocaust denier

Former Vice President Mike Pence says former President Donald Trump was wrong for having dinner with a Holocaust denier and should apologize for it.
2 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
6 days ago
Dozens of residents were displaced after fire at a low income apartment complex in Richfield, Utah....
Mark Jones

American Red Cross of Utah seeks volunteers in central Utah

The American Red Cross of Utah is seeking volunteers in central Utah after a fire in Richfield earlier this week displaced 35 families.
6 days ago
On Thanksgiving Day, Crave Cookies donated to the Utah County Jail and The Salvation Army hosted me...
Waverly Golden

Thanksgiving Day donations and volunteering

On Thanksgiving Day, Crave Cookies donated to the Utah County Jail and The Salvation Army hosted meal preparation and delivery to Utah families.
6 days ago
Gail Halvorsen, the Berlin Candy Bomber, poses for a photo in the backyard of his Provo home days b...
Waverly Golden

Utahn helps non-profit with modern day “Candy Bomber” operation

In memory of "The Candy Bomber," a fundraiser hopes to supply Christmas presents to refugee children in Berlin and Ukraine.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Dave & Dujanovic: Coping with the fear of returning to school